Monitor: Unbearable meddling: War in the Balkans

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Verdicts on Nato's decision to go ahead with air strikes on Serbia following President Milosevic's failure to accept a peace deal

China Daily

THE WESTERN powers, headed by the United States, have overreached to an unbearable extent in terms of their meddling in other's affairs. A "sword of Damocles" hung over the Serbian delegation during the negotiations: sign the accord or be bombed. Nato member countries, headed by the US, moved and deployed troops frequently in the UK, Italy, the Adriatic Sea and Macedonia, threatening war. Is there any sovereign state with national dignity willing to accept such humiliation? How could the Serbian delegation sign the accord under such pressure? Voices are being heard from the US and European countries that urge calm. They have pointed out that in the wake of the Second World War and the Cold War, Western powers have played the role of global military police and have frequently dispatched troops against others, more often than not merely resulting in a waste of money and manpower.

Le Soir

Belgium

NATO HAS taken one of the most serious decisions of its existence. It has decided for the first time to attack a sovereign country without a mandate from the UN Security Council. The Serbian offensive carried out over the last few days in Kosovo and the new wave of refugees it has created have finally persuaded the allies to act. Faced with Belgrade's obstinate determination not to accept the Paris agreement, Nato could no longer defer its action.

Dawn

Pakistan

IT IS plain that the use of force against Serbia is essential not only for Kosovo's peace and security but also in the larger context of peace in the region. After the failure of the Contact Group's attempts for restoring peace in Kosovo, it was left with no option but the resort to air strikes - even a ground force in Serbia, if needed. The Serbs have been brutal and merciless in their treatment of the Kosovars and deserve no compassion. The message has to be driven home to them that the Kosovars also have rights that must be respected.

The Washington Post

IT IS essential for Nato to ensure that this campaign does not, in the end, work in Milosevic's favor. The West must not be tempted by any halfway settlement that cannot last, but must insist that all Serbian forces withdraw from Kosovo to give its people a chance to recover from the depredations of the past year. This is not a war against the people of Serbia but an action against an aggressive despot who threatens the peace, democracy and stability that most of Central Europe now strives for. Nato undertook the mission with understandable reluctance. It must not falter in its execution.

El Mundo

Spain

THE EFFORTS of the international community have resulted in this situation, following many demonstrations of "flexibility" that came to appear as weakness. If bombardments unprecedented in post-war Europe should occur, the crisis could lead us into uncharted waters. But the continuation of "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo without a Western response would have revived ghosts of the appeasement of Hitler in 1938, the prelude to generalised European war. The question remains whether or not to accompany bombing with troops to prevent reprisals against the Kosovars. Would there be the political will for such a risky escalation of hostilities?

Sydney Morning

Herald

Australia

THE RUTHLESS, pragmatic streak in Mr Milosevic offers some hope that he will end this conflict quickly. Nato's intervention allows him to sign on to the deal over Kosovo as the best way to protect Serbs from all-out war. The scenario is not far-fetched: Milosevic made a similar decision to sign the Dayton peace agreement in 1995 after Nato launched air strikes against Bosnian Serbs. Still, as far as Serb nationalists are concerned, Kosovo is far more emotionally and symbolically significant than Bosnia. And Mr Milosevic is running out of territory he can ditch to cut his losses. Kosovo may be his last stand and the first real test of post-Cold War Europe.

Le Monde

France

THE BOMBARDMENTS are intended to break the Serbian offensive against the Kosovars. Success isn't guaranteed. The raids could serve as a pretext for Milosevic to intensify his attacks. This could engage the West in a process that will result in our intervention on the ground against a Serbian army which certainly isn't an under-trained militia. But the risks are commensurate with that which is at stake: the avoidance of the return to barbarism in Europe.

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